This is a rush transcript from "The Story with Martha MacCallum," February 21, 2018. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
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BILLY GRAHAM, REVEREND: There are problems of sin and habit that cannot be solved outside the person of our Lord, Jesus Christ.
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MARTHA MACCALLUM, FOX NEWS CHANNEL HOST: Good evening, everybody, I'm Martha MacCallum, and this is THE STORY. In a moment, when the nation is struggling with violence and divisiveness, two important things happened today that make us stop and think about where we are headed as a nation. But first, listening at the White House.
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UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Should've been one school shooting, and we should've fixed it. And I'm pissed because my daughter, I'm not going to see again. She's not here. Never, ever will I see my kid. That's how I want it to sink in for eternity. My beautiful daughter, I'm never going to see again.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I was on the floor in that building texting my mom, texting my dad, texting three of my brothers that I was never going to see them again. And then it occurred to me that my 14-year-old brother was directly above me in that classroom where Scott Beagle was murdered, and now I don't know how I'm never going to set foot in that place again or go to a public park after school or walk in anywhere. Me and my friends, we get scared when a car drives by. I turned 18 the day after I woke up to the news that my best friend was gone, and I don't understand why I can still go in a store and buy a weapon of war. How is it that easy to buy this type of weapon? How did we not stop this after Columbine, after Sandy Hooks, sitting with her mother that lost her son? It's still happening.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is my son, Daniel, he was 7-years-old when he was shot to death in his first-grade classroom in Sandy Hook Elementary School, just a little over five years ago.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm only 15 years old, I'm a sophomore. 19 years ago, the first school shooting, Columbine, at Columbine High School happened. And I was born into a world where I never got to experience safety and peace.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Now, Justine was texting me hiding in closet saying, if something happens, I love you. If something happens, I love you. And you can't imagine what that's like. As a parent, if he's not old enough to by a drink, to go and buy a beer, he should not be able to buy a gun at 18- years-old. I mean, that's just a common sense. We have to do common sense. Please, Mr. Trump.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm not to debate. I lost my sister, and like Mr. President said, if you could find 20 percent of maybe retired law enforcement officers, or teachers you could through to screech training to carry a firearm on this waist, it could have been a very different situation.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Rather than arm with a firearm, I would rather arm them with the knowledge of how to prevent these acts from happening in the first place. And I urge you, please, stay focused on that as well. It is the gun -- it's the person behind the gun, and it's about helping people before they ever reach that point.
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MACCALLUM: And on the same day when we heard all of that, the death of the -- at the age of 99, of the Reverend, Billy Graham. Four years ago, at 59, Graham expressed his deep concern about what was happening in our country.
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GRAHAM: There have been times that I've gone from city to city and seeing how far people have wandered from God. All my heart, I want to be new with the church.
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MACCALLUM: In an interview that year, he said this: 'We've been going down the wrong road for a long time. Seemingly, man has learned to live without God. He lives in a world dangerously torn by hate, and violence, and conflict, and yet he feels powerless to do anything about them.' Billy Graham preached about love and hope during some of our nation's darkest hours, including the days after September 11th.
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GRAHAM: A tragedy like this could have torn our country apart, but instead it has united us. There's hope for the present, because I believe the stage has already been set for a new spirit in our nation.
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MACCALLUM: And so tonight, as a nation, we take stock with a deeply moving conversation at the White House and a call to action, and we will talk to two people who knew and worked with Reverend Graham and asked: what was he trying to tell us at the end? In moments, Pat Boone, who considers Graham a brother. But first, Former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin, joins us by phone. Governor Palin, good to have you here tonight. Obviously, there's a lot going on in our country, and you hear the debate at the White House and you think about those words about concern for our country from Reverend Graham.
SARAH PALIN, FORMER ALASKA GOVERNOR: Well, Reverend Graham always kept his message so simple based on such truths. He consistently reminded us. His emphasis was the need for all of our --transformed in order the peace. He kept that message very simple, knowing that God is the only answer to all the struggles, to all the problems that we, as individual and a nation, faces. And I think that that is why Reverend Graham has been so revered all of these years, because people know deep down that that is true, and he was bold enough to speak it.
MACCALLUM: Governor, you know, you listen to the debate in the White House, and you hear both sides of this, and you hear what people think needs to be focused on. These killers, you know, have an impact, they divide us on this topic over and over. You know, what about what these folks are saying about their concerns about how easy it is for some people who shouldn't have guns to get them in this country?
PALIN: I absolutely understand their concerns. These parents who have lost their children, I think that there is nothing more horrible or devastating in that than what they're going through. But going back to Billy Graham and the significance even of his passing on a day like this, mean is that reminder, that nothing is going to change, nothing is going to get better regardless of more laws being passed, more politicians' rhetoric viewed across our nation or not, nothing is going to get better until we all realize that we are created for a purpose by God. All life is valuable from the beginning until the end of life. All life is valuable. And unless we give our lives back to God, individually and collectively as a nation, nothing is going to get better.
MACCALLUM: You know, I was also struck in reading about Reverend Graham, some of the details that I've forgotten, some that I didn't know about his work. Back in 1973, he got 3.2 million to join his largest-ever crusade, and it was in South Korea. 1.1 million of those who were there that day, walk there on foot. And you juxtapose that, governor, with what's going on now that the power of Graham's message, you know, there were hundred thousand people plus who signed up to be Christians that day. He obviously felt that that mission was going to help to solve some of the conflict that existed in the country. What do you think about that now in terms of what's going on North Korea?
PALIN: I think that, yes, Reverend Graham's message did resonate throughout the entire globe, and helped in so many respects. I think that Reverend Graham was very unique in that he had all over him unlike other spiritual leaders. He transcended politics and cultural denominational divides and cultural criticisms. He was able to speak truth and not worry about being politically incorrect. And it seems like he was even kind of buffeted from a lot of the criticism that many Christians face today, and that is due to God's favor, and it allowed him to speak to the masses and have the masses receive his message. You mentioned that it was in the '70s that he saw the unsurpassed members come forth to hear him speak. A lot of people refer to that as the Jesus movement, because it was a revival across the world and in our own nation, and it was much to do with Reverend Graham's message that resonated with so many people who were hurting, they were lost, just like we all are today, needing hope, needing that promise of salvation. He spoke it clearly, and plainly, and truthfully, and people have to received that.
MACCALLUM: Governor Palin, thank you very much. Good to have you with us tonight.
PALIN: Thank you.
MACCALLUM: So, the message that many fears absent in our culture that we're talking about is one that Reverend Graham had been preaching since his earliest days.
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GRAHAM: I do not believe that any man, that any man can solve the problems of life without Jesus Christ.
I don't know what your religious background, or racial background, or cultural background, it makes no difference. You come and stand quietly here and say, as it were, I give my life to Christ tonight.
Jesus did not have white skin like mine, nor did he have black skin like some of you. Jesus belongs to all the people.
God, is a god of love. He loves you. And there's one thing I want you to take from this great park when you leave here today, it's this: God loves you.
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MACCALLUM: Joining me now, Pat Boone, the legendary singer and actor and a friend of reverend Graham since the 1950s. Pat, welcome. Very good to have you here tonight. As you listen to those words from Reverend Graham, you think about your friendship and the time you spent with him over the years, what goes through your mind tonight?
PAT BOONE, ACTOR AND FRIEND OF REVEREND GRAHAM: Yes, I sure do, so many thoughts, hard to put them all into expression. Billy and Ruth were friends of my wife, Sheryl and me, for many years -- 40 years at least. And we spent some time together in Hawaii with various functions. We supported the same things. We attended the same things. They day that Saddam Hussein came up out of that spider hole in Iraq, I spent that afternoon, a cold afternoon in the winter at Montreat with Billy, and Ruth, and Franklin, and we -- over lunch, talked about the way the world was going, and Billy had said, and then Ronald Reagan repeated it: the problems this world faces now are beyond human solution. Only divine solutions exist for us now.
What they were saying is, a nation founded on the principles of the Bible, and on God himself -- and that was purely the intent of the founders when they created the Constitution, the declaration of independence. Even Thomas Jefferson, the very First Amendment, Congress should make no law respecting an establishment or religion nor restricting the free exercise thereof. All of it based on Bible principle. Now, a nation built that way and growing that way was the most blessed nation in the world, and we seemed to have the answers to all the world's problems. Then, we began to try to be like the rest of the world, and more and more it became unfashionable.
Somebody's afraid they were going to be offended, and now the school kids - - imagine this paradox: school kids, where these tragedies took place, have been denied the right to have prayer in the beginning of the school day, and no mention of God, no mention of Jesus, and even in their writings, or their essays, because somebody might be offended. Now, instead of prayer, and drugs -- there's drugs, there's guns, there's violence, there is a connection, and there is a connection between what happened and the listening that people are doing now. And Billy's departure to heaven today, because Billy was trying to tell the world there are answers but they reside with God who created us, and who gave us this country called America.
So, I was afraid, as Billy, the last several years, was getting older that the younger generation just might never know who Billy Graham was. And I wrote a song, I called it 'Thank You, Billy Graham' and I did a video of it, and it is very, very moving. It's 'Thank You, Billy Graham.' Many stars, including Bono, and Kenny Rogers, and David Pack of Ambrosia, and Lean Rhymes, on and on, and on joined me -- even Larry King, paying tribute to this man who was speaking the truth, unafraid, never worried about offending anybody else, because it was too important to worry about that. If it's life and death, then you don't worry about offending somebody. And to Billy, it was always about life and death.
Now, he has left the building, as they say about Elvis, and this video, and this song, I'm hoping people will take into their homes and get it at Amazon -- it's not a commercial, but it is a tribute to Billy for the kids and the grandkids of the near future. In times of tragedy, we are driven to our knees. I'm going to Israel in May, at the celebration of the 70th anniversary of the modern state. I would love for Billy to go on with me and love everybody else to go, because that's where Billy preached all of his sermons that was on the bible.
MACCALLUM: Thank you so much, Pat. Great words of wisdom. We really appreciate you being here.
BOONE: I'm sorry I couldn't think of anything to say.
BOONE: Thank you, Martha.
MACCALLUM: Always good to see you. Thank you so much for here tonight. Pat Boone, pleasure. So, when we come back, we will be joined by this man, Darrell Scott.
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DARRELL SCOTT, DAUGHTER KILLED IN COLUMBINE: I went through what some of the folks here are going through now because my beautiful daughter, Rachel, was killed.
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DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We want to learn everything we can learn, and we're going to go, starting about two minutes after this meeting, we're going to work. This is a long-term situation that we have to solve; we'll solve it together. And you've gone through extraordinary pain, and we don't want others to go through the kind of pain that you've gone through.
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MACCALLUM: Something important happened at the White House today at that listening session between President Trump and Americans impacted by school shootings. Anybody who is not moved by these people and their anger and their grief does not have a pulse. My next guest was there. He spoke of his daughter, Rachel Scott, the first victim of the Columbine shooting, 19 years ago, and Mr. Scott joins me now. Thank you so much for being here tonight. So, I know it's been a long day and probably a draining day. But I'm curious what it was like for you in that room, and whether or not you left there feeling like this White House is going to take action.
SCOTT: Well, thank you, Martha. I want to just say that Dr. Graham was an inspiration in my life, and 19 years ago, I did an interview with him on Larry King on forgiveness. Shortly, after that, I was able to speak to his entire staff, and it was such a privilege to sit in the chair at his desk that he had sat in for so many years. So, the world lost a great man --
MACCALLUM: Very true. Thank you for sharing.
SCOTT: Today, in the meeting that we had today -- I really believe that this shooting -- but I think there's something different in the air right now. And the answers are not simple, but the problems aren't simple either; they're very complex. What we do, with Rachel's challenge, our program in honor of my daughter is we go into -- we've been into over 20,000 schools across America over the last 19 years, and we reached between a million and two million students every single year. We've seen seven school shootings prevented and we see an average about of about three suicides prevented every week because of Rachel's story and the trainings, and the service clubs we've created.
MACCALLUM: You know, that's remarkable, and I commend you for being able to turn your grief into action the way that you have and your family has. You know, in terms of what you heard in there today, there was a lot of talk of arming people, you know, perhaps retired police officers, members of the military who could serve at schools around the nation to keep us safer, to keep our children safer. There was, you know, talk about work that involves restricting gun ownership. What do you think is the most likely? What did you see on the president's face in there in terms of how you thought he was moving on some of these?
SCOTT: I really believe the president wants to do the right thing, and his heart is really in this. I had the privilege of meeting with him before he became president and heard his heart at that time. A lot of people don't get to know the real man behind the face, and I believe that he is going to make some changes and make some positive changes. The changes need to go a lot deeper, in my opinion, than just the gun control issue or metal detector issue, or the physical features around the school. But you know, our whole focus is on the hearts of kids, and we have seen results, we have answers, and we work with some great partners. We work with Chuck Norris and his wife, Gina, have a program called kick-start for kids. We do all their character training, programming -- that program is awesome. We work with Dr. Jim Faye, his son Charles Faye with Love and Logic, with Dr. Robert Morzano, Morzano Research -- a number of organizations. And together, we note some answers if we can just get the right people to listen.
MACCALLUM: Thank you, Mr. Scott. It's great to have you with us tonight. And we appreciate your story that we heard today, and all that you're doing to help. Thank you, sir.
SCOTT: You're welcome.
MACCALLUM: So, joining me now: Chris Stirewalt, Fox News Politics Editor; Katie Pavlich, Townhall.com News Editor; and Syndicated Radio Host, Richard Fowler, both are Fox News Contributors. Welcome to all of you. It's pretty amazing, I thought, this afternoon. I mean, I don't know anybody who was watching that who didn't stop and take all of that in, and there was a wide-range of opinions, Chris, in terms of what the solutions were, and I do give the White House credit for allowing people to come in, who had a lot of different opinions, and to have their piece.
CHRIS STIREWALT, FOX NEWS POLITICS EDITOR: The president is obviously going to take some flack for what he talked about, that arming teachers et cetera. But the big victory for the White House --
MACCALLUM: Not from everybody.
STIREWALT: He's going to take some, but not everybody. The big victory for the White House in this they took a chance. This could've gone really poorly. This could've gone really poorly. They took a chance, and after a week of trying to play catch-up, they finally got control of the conversation that demonstrated engagement -- which was the thing they needed to do most of all.
MACCALLUM: I mean, as you say, they did take a risk. And I thought, you know, maybe this is going to be a very sort of canned conversation. Because obviously, you want to put your arms around it when you're bringing like this to the White House. But, Katie, I felt like there were some very raw, very real moments in there, and people who disagreed with each other, and the president was taking it in.
KATIE PAVLICH, FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR AND NEWS EDITOR FOR TOWNHALL.COM: Yes. Martha, we have been hearing for a long time that we all need to sit down have a 'real' conversation about these issues, and I think that's exactly what happened today. And whether you agree or disagree with some of the things that were said, I certainly agree with some of the things that were said, I agree with the president when he's arming teachers -- and there's a number of school districts around the country that already doing. I disagree with some of the things that were said, but the stability of the conversation and being able to listen to someone thoroughly make their point without their motives being impugned, without the noise of Twitter, and 140 characters or 240, whatever it is now, without the media aspect of it filtering through some of these opinions. I think it really got us to that point of listening to the ideas, and they won't all be implemented, they won't all pan out in terms of facts and what can actually be done to change things in the future. But hearing from everybody in a calm, respectful, and civil manner, from people who really are the closest to this issue, who are hurting in a way that you can't even imagine. I thought it was really important for the country to see.
MACCALLUM: You know, specifically, Richard, on the issue of having an armed guard, there was one armed guard in this school in Florida that had 3200 kids in it. It obviously wasn't enough. But having retired police officers, retired military, spending time on these campuses, people who are -- the same people who are protecting it at airports, and all kinds of other venues, even movie theaters, you know, shopping malls, why can't our kids have the same kind of protection that we have when we go in these other places?
RICHARD FOWLER, FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR AND NATIONALLY SYNDICATED RADIO HOST: Well, I think that's a good question. I mean, I disagree with the president on arming teachers. And the Parkland Community is an interesting one -- I grew up about 20 miles. I actually debated at Stoneman Douglas High School when I was a sophomore, and so this is very real for me. But I think the ideal of arming teachers is just not for --
MACCALLUM: But what about -- forget the teachers for a moment. What about having somebody on campus who is an armed guard or several armed guards.
FOWLER: I think we should. I mean, when I went to high school, we had an armed police officer there. I think increasing those numbers are good. But I think it's a tight rope here, because what you want to do, you're going to make sure our kids are safe, at the same time, you don't want to expose the children to over -- like to over armament, like machine gun standing in front of buildings.
MACCALLUM: But they see them every time they go to the airport. If it makes them feel safe, I'm not sure it's such a bad idea.
FOWLER: I think you've got to find the balance, because I think when the interview started out this morning, that show with Billy Graham talking about that there's so much hate, and there's so much violence. And having these guns there, represents that type of violence. I think if you listen to some of the people who've lived through this, they talk about --
MACCALLUM: OK. I don't know too many that are afraid to go to the airport, because there's, you know, some guys there who have guns. But Chris -- let me get to Chris -- in terms of the president and what he is going to go. Lot of talks about AR-15s in there. That's a politically perilous topic for him Chris.
STIREWALT: Sure. Look, I don't think that we're going to see a federal ban on any particular kind of firearm come out of this right. But it is heavily, heavily weighing down on Republicans at this moment that their success in not -- in succeeding in blocking anything in the wake of New Town, in wake of Las Vegas, in action in the past which was pretty astonishing political victory, that they were able to stop the gun control measures and stop other things in the past, what they didn't do was act when they could have. And now, you see this catch up game where the administration is urging Congress to take action on these bump stocks where you have the Cornyn legislation about clarifying the background check process. They should've acted before when they had the chance, now they are in a hurry-scurry to try to catch up and do it, and they better or they will pay serious price this fall.
MACCALLUM: Yes. There's also a measure that was put down that had to do with people who collect disability and are on the list of those who are mentally unfit -- and whatever words you want to use. That is something that the president overturned early on in his presidency. And do you think, Katie, quickly, and Richard, that that's something that needs to be revisited quickly?
PAVLICH: No, absolutely not. The president simply gave back millions of Social Security recipients their rights, and he should do it for veterans too. People who need help navigating bureaucracy and handling their financial affairs aren't deemed mentally unfit. They're not incapable of owning firearms and exercising their second amendment rights. So, President Trump did the right thing there.
MACCALLUM: There has to be a way to divide people who are a -- who have violence in their background or have exhibited on social media. I mean, there has to be a way to say to someone: you, actually, are not allowed to have a gun.
PAVLICH: Sure. But to blanket in generalization of everyone who needs someone --
MACCALLUM: I'm going to give the last word to Richard.
FOWLER: I think the one point we're missing this segment is that the good book says, the children shall lead us, and what we saw the day, Martha, all across the state of Florida, and all across this country was children leading this country in the right direction to make their school safer. They walked out in campus after campus, after campus, and it was powerful to watch. And they have my solidarity -- I'm really proud of them.
MACCALLUM: And no one should write off these kids as being, you know, anything other than what they appear to be, I don't think so. Thanks, you guys. Great to see you all tonight. Thank you for being here.
STIREWALT: You bet.
MACCALLUM: So, here's a question for you. Who answered the phones when concerned citizens called the FBI to warn them about the Florida shooter? Tonight, new scrutiny on the FBI call center; where did these tips actually go? It is a small town in West Virginia. Why are we doing things this way? Ron Hosko served in the FBI for 30 years, and he joins us next.
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TRUMP: He is a sick guy, and he should have been nabbed a number of times, frankly.
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MACCALLUM: So when you pick up the phone and call for help with your computer, who answers the phone? Often that call gets rooted halfway around the world, and oftentimes you don't really get an answer. So is something similar but domestically happening like that when you pick up the call to give a tip to the FBI? Those calls get routed to a small town called Clarksburg, West Virginia, to a building there that is staffed by 150 employees. Trace Gallagher here with how this all plays out. Trace.
TRACE GALLAGHER, FOX NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Martha, before 2012, FBI agents in each of the bureau's 56 field offices around the world, or the country, would answer calls and emails about various tips. The information was vetted and then assessed on whether warranted further investigation. The FBI admits handling those tips on the local level took more time, more workers, and invariably led to chasing down useless leads, but at least they got most of the information.
So when the bureau moved to a centralized tip line in 2012, former and current FBI agents made their concerns very clear, saying that having one primary call center added a layer of bureaucracy, and that tip line operators in West Virginia might not understand unique problems facing the various local communities. Experts say in hindsight that concern appears valid because on January 5th the person close to allege school shooter, Nikolas Cruz, called the FBI tip line and provided specific information on his gun ownership, desire to kill people, disturbing social media posts and erratic behavior. The FBI says the call should have been flagged as a potential threat to life and prompted an urgent investigation.
Instead, the call was assessed at such a low priority it was never even passed along to the Miami field office. The FBI is still trying to figure out why. It's even more baffling when you recall that in September of last year, the FBI got another tip from a man who saw a message on his YouTube channel from someone calling themselves Nikolas Cruz saying, quote, I'm going to be a professional school shooter. The tipster emailed a screenshot to the FBI but the agency could never positively I.D. the person who made the comment, and those two tips were apparently never put together.
And remember, back before the Boston bombing, the FBI got a tip from Russian authorities saying Tamerlan Tsarnaev was a terror threat. The FBI assessed that he was not and didn't fully share the information with the joint terrorism task force in Boston. At the time, then-FBI director, Robert Mueller, acknowledged the information could have been handled better. Martha?
MACCALLUM: Trace, thank you very much. Here now with more, Ron Hosko, former FBI assistant director of the criminal investigative division, and he served in the FBI for 30 years. Ron, good to have you with us. Let me start with this. Why did the FBI make this change? Was it a question of saving money or resources? Why did they move all the tip center to West Virginia?
RON HOSKO, FORMER FBI ASSISTANT DIRECTOR: You know, Martha, I think in the post-9/11 world that we had, the bureau is changing dramatically on a number of different fronts, shifting from criminal cases to counterterrorism, building up intelligence, building up a weapons of mass destruction directorate, and we were always looking for efficiencies. How to do something a little-bit more economically. Clearly, some folks at the top of the organization making this decision thought that that was a better investment of money and time, as your Trace said. Before this, there were complaint agents sitting duty in 56 field offices--
MACCALLUM: Do you agree that it was a good move or a mistake?
HOSKO: You know, I don't know. What I think is that the inspection division, a division I used to be a part of, of the FBI is out there looking at this situation. But I think they would benefit from a holistic look, not only just this case, but to see, is there other critical information that has fallen in the cracks somewhere, and see are we losing as much as we're gaining? These are -- it's a shift from agents taking these--
MACCALLUM: Sorry to jump in. Are the people who man these phones, are they real agents? Are they FBI agents, or are they call takers? Do they make the same money as FBI agents in the field or are they paid less?
HOSKO: Yeah. I think what's going on in West Virginia is you have professional support personnel who are trained on how to do this, but they are not FBI agents. That's part of the economic look at this process. They took it out of agents' hands. I did it many times myself. They shifted it to a professional support staff in West Virginia.
Certainly, they are paid less. It's an area of the country that's, by and large, economically depressed compared to a Washington, D.C. or New York, so there're probably economic reasons. But again, every time you lengthen a chain, every link, you know, has its own weaknesses, and the weakest link sometimes breaks. They may see that here.
MACCALLUM: We're going to stay on this with your help. We need to find out exactly what happened here. And there're needs to be accountability and we need to fix whatever the issues are that can be fixed.
HOSKO: I agree.
MACCALLUM: So Ron, thank you. Great to see you, as always.
HOSKO: Welcome, sure.
MACCALLUM: So, Jared Kushner security clearance is under intense scrutiny, but when you hear about President Obama's top advisor, Ben Rhodes, it may raise some questions about that. We'll tell you why after this.
MACCALLUM: Jared Kushner, President Trump's son-in-law and senior advisor, now butting heads a bit with the White House chiefs of staff, according to some reporting on this. Under a new policy, laid out by John Kelly last week, that the White House will no longer let employees with interim security clearances have access to top-secret information, and that means that the status could be up in the air.
But it turns out, you know, just of interest, when you look into these situations in different White Houses, Ben Rhodes, a top Obama advisor, was denied interim clearance in 2008. It is unclear if that was ever resolved. Joining me now, Charles Hurt, political columnists at the Washington Times, and Jessica Tarlov, author of American in the age of Trump, both are Fox News contributor. Good to see you both tonight. This is interesting. It's actually pulled from a John Podesta email.
Let's put it up on the screen. This is from October 29, '08, so early on in the Obama administration. It said, we agreed that it would not be worth pushing for Benjamin Rhodes to receive interim status. For your information, out of the approximately 187 people who have moved through the process, Benjamin was the only person who has declined interim status. They were then asked about it later on, and they said that he currently holds all relevant security clearances related to his leading role in the White House. So that could mean a number of things, Charlie, right?
CHARLIE HURT, FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: Yeah, sure it could. And, of course, I welcome this newfound concern about keeping our secrets secret from Democrats, but where was this canned outrage back when Hillary Clinton and her home based server and when the previous administration was unmasking political pundits in the middle of an election. That said, this is an important issue. We need to -- the proper handling of classified material inside the White House is vitally important, and I want Trump to do it, just the way I would like to have seen Obama do it.
But, quite frankly, when you look at the portfolio that Jared Kushner has, he's working on Middle East peace, and you look at what Ben Rhodes did under the exact same clearance in terms of aiding and abetting a country -- a known state-sponsored terrorism like Iran, sending them $400 million in a pallet of American cash, all of which, at the end of this nuclear deal would put them a glide path of becoming a nuclear power. I'm really not all that upset about Jared Kushner operating with or without a full security clearance.
JESSICA TARLOV, FOX NEWS CONTRUBUTOR: Well, another segment to debate the Iran deal. I wouldn't call it aiding and abetting terrorists, but that's for another night here. I agree with Charlie, wholeheartedly, though, that I would love to know what happened. This isn't something we've talked about before. Even though, I thought we had exhausted everything about that road and President Obama. But every day there's something new. So the point about the current clearances, though, there's two things going on here.
One, if we hadn't had the Rob Porter issue, if there hadn't been someone who is under FBI investigation for domestic abuse, and what the FBI had actually said, this seems credible to us and then he was kept on, Jared Kushner will not be in trouble at all right now. Things would be business as usual. The second point is that it's been rumored for a very long time that chief of staff John Kelly is not a fan of Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump's roles here, and that they are really at odds. So I think that Kelly may be using this moment, even though he's out there saying, I don't think this will affect his portfolio as a way, maybe, to really kind of harness control again in the White House after the debacle of the Porter's.
MACCALLUM: To that point, John Kelly, the chief of staff, said, I will not comment on anybody specific security clearance situation, or go beyond the memo released last week. As I told Jared days ago, I have full confidence in his ability to continue performing his duties in his foreign policy portfolio, suggesting that he has the clearance that he needs to do what he's doing, Charlie.
HURT: Sure. Obviously, this is Washington, everybody likes to sort of try to read the tea leaves, they're trying to get behind the scenes and get all the drama that's going on behind the scenes at the White House. But at the end of the day, if you read it at face value, that statement that he made of a new policy in the wake of the Rob Porter debacle is a very smart statement. It's a smart policy. And I don't think -- I don't find much criticism in there for John Kelly.
TARLOV: No, I certainly wouldn't either. It's something that, frankly, he should have said when he started it. It was brought in to kind of rank the ship.
MACCALLUM: Just quickly, do you both think that John Kelly stays? Jessica, and then, Charlie.
TARLOV: I do.
HURT: Yeah. I think -- probably the general has a whole lot more of the president's confidence than the wags around here in Washington would actually admit.
MACCALLUM: Thanks you, guys. Good to see you.
MACCALLUM: All right, coming up tonight, CNN ambushes a Trump supporter, accusing her of colluding with Russians. Have you seen this? This is something else. Watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNINDENTIFIED FEMALE: They were not Russians. I don't go with the Russians.
UNINDENTIFIED MALE: That group was Russians.
UNINDENTIFIED FEMALE: I had nothing to do with the Russians.
UNINDENTIFIED MALE: Well, apparently you did.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: She's saying Russia, Russia, Russia, but -- maybe it was. I mean, it could be Russia, but it could also be China. It could also be lots of other people. It also could be somebody sitting on their bed that weighs 400 pounds, OK?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MACCALLUM: So one week after the Department of Justice announced indictments for 13 Russians for invading social media account to essentially slip into American groups and encourage them to stage rally and engage in political activities. CNN tracked down one of the women who was involved in this so-called collusion simply by attending a rally. Watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNINDENTIFIED FEMALE: The end. And please, please report that. I don't believe that. That's (BLEEP). I know all the people that were with me, OK? They were at my meetings. They're all Trump supporters, OK?
UNINDENTIFIED MALE: But did you realize that you guys were in communication electronically with Russians?
UNINDENTIFIED FEMALE: Not me. Not me. I don't know--
UNINDENTIFIED MALE: You were posting stuff on Facebook.
UNINDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hillary Clinton was, and so was all her bandits.
UNINDENTIFIED MALE: Some of the stuff -- you're in charge of the Facebook, right? You were posting and reposting almost word for word the information that was coming out of this internet research agency in St. Petersburg.
UNINDENTIFIED FEMALE: No.
UNINDENTIFIED MALE: You don't believe that?
UNINDENTIFIED FEMALE: Nope. (BLEEP)
UNINDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thank you. Thank you. Bye-bye.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MACCALLUM: Here now, Guy Benson, political editor at townhall.com and a Fox News contributor. Guy, I mean, you can't make this up. This poor woman -- she's like, I went to a Trump rally with everybody I knew, with all my friends, and he's interrogating her as if she was, you know, some complicit spy.
GUY BENSON, FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: Look, that particular CNN correspondent does some good work, but in this case, you're an experienced journalist, Martha, I'm sitting here, I'm watching that clip, I watched it earlier. I went to journalism school. I'm trying to figure out, what is the news value of sending a reporter to a woman's house -- for what purpose? To say, well, you joined some group or republish some political content that came from a Russian troll farm so you and your friends who supported Trump anyway went to this event and therefore -- what? I don't understand the point is.
MACCALLUM: I guess, next they'll be showing up at Michael Moore's house. And, you know, everybody else who was part of this stuff.
BENSON: Right, because people on the left got duped or got sucked in to these Russian accounts who are just trying to stoke tensions and flames, did so successfully in some cases--
BENSON: -- not terribly successfully in most cases. And as you said, Michael Moore went to some rally that apparently the Russians were behind. Are they going to be barging into his house or knocking down his door saying, did you know that you were in cahoots with the Russians? No, he hated Trump and wanted Trump to lose. Michael Moore was not some Russian plant. That woman outside her house was not a Russian plant. No one believes that. And I just don't -- for the life of me, understand why naming and shaming -- and they named her, a private citizen, for just getting involved politically, unwittingly, perhaps, involved with the Russian government serves any journalistic purpose. But it has reportedly resulted in a bunch of threats by left-wing people to this lady who simply engaged in the political process. This one is kind of baffling.
MACCALLUM: Yeah. She clearly did not deserve that. And who ever handed that assignment somebody should have said, wait, does this really make sense what we're doing here?
BENSON: I'm one of these people who believe that it's important to get to the bottom of what the Russian did in our election. And taking people away and journalists away from that task, for this sort of adventure, to me is odd.
MACCALLUM: Well put. Guy, thank you very much. Good to see you as always.
BENSON: Thanks, Martha.
MACCALLUM: So coming up next, some final thought on Reverend Billy Graham when we come back.
MACCALLUM: Reverend Graham sat down with Fox News about seven years ago. He was asked what he would do differently in life if he had it to do over again. His answer is our quote of the night.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNINDENTIFIED MALE: I would study more, I would pray more, travel less, take less speaking engagements. I took too many of them in too many places around the world. If I had it to do over again, I would spend more time in meditation and prayer and just telling the Lord how much I love him.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MACCALLUM: Life well-lived, Billy Graham. Send me a tweet at Martha MacCallum. Also check out an interesting sound bite from President George W. Bush there as well. We'll see you back here tomorrow at 7. Tucker is up next.
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